Washington: Has a bone density scan placed you at risk for osteoporosis, tempting your doctor to prescribe a widely advertised bone-building medication? However, an effective first course of action would be to increase calcium and Vitamin D intake, say researchers.
A University of Illinois study had found that increasing dietary calcium and Vitamin D or taking calcium and Vitamin D supplements works very well.
"For many people, prescription bone-building medicines should be a last resort," said Karen Chapman-Novakofski, University of Illinois professor of nutrition and co-author of a literature review, the journal Nutrients reports.
The scientist said that prescription bone-building medications are expensive, and many have side-effects, including ironically an increase in hip fractures and jaw necrosis. They should be used only if diet and supplements don`t do the trick.
"Bisphosphonates, for instance, disrupt normal bone remodelling by shutting down the osteoclasts - the cells that break down old bone to make new bone," according to an Illinois statement.
"When that happens, new bone is built on top of old bone. Yes, your bone density is higher, but the bone`s not always structurally sound," she said.
"I suspect that many doctors reach for their prescription pads because they believe it`s unlikely that people will change their diets," she noted.
A bone density test measures quantity, not quality, of bone. "Although the test reports that you`re fine or doing better, you may still be at risk for a fracture," said Chapman-Novakofski.
A woman in midlife can get enough calcium in her diet without gaining weight, said study co-author Karen Plawecki, director of the Illinois dietetics program.
"Menopausal women should consume 1,200 milligrams of calcium a day. Three glasses of one percent to skim milk will get you up to 900 milligrams. The rest can easily be obtained through calcium-rich and calcium-fortified foods," Plawecki said.
According to Plawecki, the number of foods fortified with calcium and vitamin D is increasing exponentially. Examples are soy milk, orange juice, yogurt, crackers, cereal, bread, breakfast bars, and even pancakes.
"Following a low-sodium diet does seem to have a positive effect on bone density," Plawecki said.